Oil and natural gas prices continue to bounce around in record price territory, but how much are we paying for the stuff? Price is only one part of the cost equation—the other is how much we buy. \t In 2004, Californians consumed 2,382,823 million cubic feet (MMcf) of gas, according to federal statistics. The average wholesale price of gas in the state was about $6\/MMBtu, or about $6,000\/MMcf. So Californians coughed up about $14.3 billion for natural gas last year. \t This year, gas prices are averaging about a dollar higher than last year. If consumption stays roughly the same (it has so far), we'll pay an additional $2.4 billion this year, for a total of 16.7 billion big ones. If prices were to continue at today's $9\/MMBtu level for a year, the cost would be $7.1 billion higher than in 2004. \t And that's just California, which uses about 10 percent of the nation's total. For the U.S. as a whole, multiply the above costs by 10. As the late Senator Everett Dirksen once said, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money." \t The oil picture is even worse, since the U.S. burns about 20 million barrels every day, some 7.3 billion barrels every year. Last year's price was about $43\/barrel, for a grand total of $314 billion for the year. Prices have averaged about $10\/bbl higher so far this year, adding another $73 billion to the total. At current prices, add another $73 billion. Again, California's share of the total is about 10 percent. \t It's not hard to see why the economists are worried about the impact of prices on the economy. If today's oil and gas prices continue, the country will be paying $213 billion more than we did in 2004 every year—about $660 billion per year. That has to hurt. And of course, there's no assurance prices won't go higher.